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New York Department of State
The People's Quarterly Report  Fall 2011
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The People's DepartmentThe People's Department
By Cesar A. Perales, New York Secretary of State
A cornerstone of Governor Cuomo’s plans for New York State is to restore credibility to government by ensuring that it truly works for the people. We at the New York Department of State (DOS) play a critical role in this effort by providing crucial services to New Yorkers while making government more efficient.

Since it was established in 1778, DOS has become one of the state’s most diverse agencies. Because of the broad nature of our work, we impact the lives of millions of people throughout New York. We partner with hundreds of towns and villages to revitalize New York’s waterfronts, clean-up brownfields, and streamline government services. We help thousands of entrepreneurs form businesses, we train and license workers, and we serve as the state’s top consumer watchdog and think tank.

At DOS, we are committed to serving all New Yorkers and we are proud to present our first issue of The People’s Quarterly Report. This report highlights issues of concern to business owners, local governments, consumers, and the public. We look forward to your feedback and suggestions for future editions at info@dos.ny.gov. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NYSDOS for more frequent updates to DOS news.
New York Remembers Secretary Perales Commemorates 9/11 with New York Remembers 9/11

On September 9th, Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales visited Monticello and Mahopac to participate in “New York Remembers,” a program created by Governor Cuomo in concert with the New York State Museum and the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. The 30 exhibits located across the state provide New Yorkers an opportunity to remember the victims of September 11th and honor the countless heroes who came from all corners of the state to help in the clean-up and recovery efforts.

In Monticello and Mahopac, the Secretary spoke about the need to honor the memory of those whose lives were cut short on that tragic day ten years ago. He also encouraged us to ensure that future generations are made aware of both the tragedy that evil brought upon us that day, as well as the strength, unity and courage our fellow New Yorkers showed in the face of that evil.

He presented artifacts to each location, a crushed vehicle panel door from FDNY squad 18 in Monticello, and a fragment from the World Trade Center in Mahopac. Each artifact was a reminder that amid all the chaos and destruction, we will always have hope and comfort in knowing New Yorkers will come together during moments when our faith is given the ultimate test.

“This week, New Yorkers from all regions, races and religions are united by a common purpose,” Secretary Perales expressed. “We must remember that 9-11 was an attack on the principles of our democracy, a threat to our way of life, and a test of our resolve to co-exist in a free and tolerant society. Those who challenged our freedom underestimated the true strength of Americans. We will never allow the bonds that unite us to be broken by those whose hearts are filled with hatred.”

The 30 New York Remember exhibit locations are Albany, Amsterdam, Auburn, Batavia, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Geneva, Hudson, Ithaca, Jamestown, Lake Placid, Mahopac, Middletown, Monticello, Niagara Falls, Oneonta, Norwich, Plattsburgh, Potsdam, Poughkeepsie, Rochester, Rockville Centre, Saratoga Springs, Stony Brook, Suffern, Syracuse, Utica, Watertown, and White Plains. Each location will remain open through the month of September. Exact locations can be found here.
Secretary Perales Tours Flood Damage
from Hurricane Irene
Secretary Perales Tours Flood Damage from Hurricane Irene
As part of Governor Cuomo’s statewide recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Secretary of State Perales toured neighborhoods in Westchester County in the days immediately following the storm. He visited both the City of Rye and the Village of Mamaroneck, meeting with local officials and surveying the neighborhoods most severely impacted by the devastating hurricane.

During his stop in the city of Rye on August 31, the Secretary met with volunteer members of the Department’s Disaster Recovery Unit and commended the team of volunteer code enforcement officials for their selfless efforts to help families in need in the wake of the storm.

“Part of our mission at the Department of State is to ensure that our buildings are constructed, operated, and maintained safely,” said Secretary Perales. “During extraordinary times such as these, we are particularly grateful to those who have answered our request to voluntarily serve during this post-disaster period.”

The volunteers were deputized as Assistants to the Secretary of State in response to the Governor’s Executive Order declaring a State Disaster Emergency. The designation enables them to perform rapid building assessments in neighborhoods most affected by Hurricane Irene. Their assessments will be used as a basis to receive federal and state disaster relief funding. Under the direction of the Department’s Division of Code Enforcement and Administration, the team inspected 243 residential and commercial buildings. Of those, they determined 195 suffered minor to major damage.

During his visit to Mamaroneck on September 2, the Secretary met with families whose homes were destroyed by the flooding and then toured damage in some of the hardest hit neighborhoods. He also met with the Village’s community action agency regarding emergency disaster relief funding they are eligible to apply for and assured them that the Department is at the ready to assist the community’s residents in getting back on their feet.

Deputy Secretary of State Dierdre “Dede” Scozzafava also was deployed as part of Governor’s Cuomo’s Storm and Flooding Recovery Task Force. She traveled across the North Country to Warren, Washington, Essex, and Clinton counties to help local officials make use of available state and federal disaster relief resources. Stops included visits to Lake George, Granville, Hague, Moriah and Jay.
Secretary of State Cesar Perales to Serve on Executive Compensation Task Force

Cesar A. Perales, Secretary of State
On August 3, Governor Cuomo appointed Secretary of State Cesar Perales to a new task force to look into executive compensation levels at not-for-profits receiving state aid. Secretary Perales is one of seven people selected by the Governor to serve on the task force. Governor Cuomo’s announcement follows reports of excessive salaries and compensation packages for executives at not-for-profits that depend on state Medicaid funding. Currently there are no state rules governing compensation at not-for-profits that receive state support.

“I thank Governor Cuomo for the opportunity to serve on this task force,” said Secretary of State Perales. “I look forward to working with the other members to recommend new rules that will ensure state funds are not abused by senior executives, but rather are spent as intended to help those who are most in need.”

According to the Division of the Budget's January 2010 preliminary analysis of not-for-profit employees contracting with the mental hygiene agencies, there were an estimated 1,926 employees with annual salaries greater than or equal to $100,000.

Secretary of State Cesar Perales is the 66th Secretary of State in New York. He was appointed by Governor Cuomo in March 2011 and unanimously confirmed by the New York State Senate in June.
Department of State Hosts
Town Hall Meetings

Deputy Secretary of State Dede Scozzafava and staff are meet with local leaders and interested citizens.This summer the New York Department of State launched its first local government town hall meetings. The forums are designed to stimulate discussions with local leaders about improving New York’s economies through government efficiencies.

Deputy Secretary of State Dede Scozzafava and staff are meeting with local leaders and interested citizens to share how the Department of State can help create thriving and sustainable communities. Each year, the Department provides free training for an estimated 10,000 local municipal officials and oversees more than $100 million in local assistance grants.

“Governor Andrew Cuomo is committed to ensuring that state programs reflect local and regional needs,” said New York Deputy Secretary of State Scozzafava. “It's important to bring government to the people and this administration is making it a priority to engage citizens in developing strategies that are best for their own communities.”

The first two town hall meetings, held in Plattsburgh and Tupper Lake, focused on the newly enacted property tax cap, local economic development efforts, and the resources available to local municipalities to study and implement consolidation, dissolution and sharing of services. If you are interested in scheduling a town hall in your area, please contact let us know at lynne.mahoney@dos.ny.gov. Logistics for upcoming town hall meetings will be posted to the Department of State website as they are scheduled. You can also follow the schedule on Twitter at @NYSDOS.

Consumer Protection Merges with DOS

Consumer Protection Merges with DOSDemonstrating a commitment to better serve New Yorkers by streamlining state resources and increasing efficiency, Governor Cuomo announced the merger of the Consumer Protection Board into the Department of State effective March 31, 2011. Consumer Protection has served as the state's top watchdog and think tank on a wide range of consumer issues from questionable business practices and scams, to product recalls, and mitigating the consequences of identity theft.

"Over the past three years, Consumer Protection has saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the form of refunds, credits, and utility rate reductions," said Secretary of State Perales. "Whether advocating for stronger consumer protection laws, or alerting people to the dangers of a recalled product, the Department of State is committed to serving New York consumers.”

The Division of Consumer Protection offers consumer guidance and resources to help the public navigate a vast marketplace and make informed purchasing decisions. It handles an average of 40,000 consumer cases each year, many related to credit card disputes, the Do Not Call Registry, and concerns about the way businesses conduct their operations or interact with customers. It also represents the interests of consumers before public utilities and other state and federal agencies.

Consumer Education:
Our First Line of Defense

Consumer Education: Our First Line of DefenseKeep your eye out for fraudulent charges on your debit card, warns the New York Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection. Identity theft was the number one complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission in 2010 and New York State is 8th per capita in identity theft complaints in the nation.

Take the case of several Capital Region consumers who have noted charges on their debit card for services they did not receive. The charges seem to be made at gas stations, discount and department stores and supermarkets out of state.

In response to these and other incidents, the Department of State’s Division of Consumer Protection is hosting educational presentations across the state on identity theft and scam prevention. At these events, consumers learn how to mitigate the consequences of ID theft, should they fall victim. Tips include:

1. Immediately notify your financial institution of any
    suspicious activity or unauthorized charges;
2. Request your credit report and check it every three
    months for free at www.annualcreditreport.com;
3. Place a fraud alert on your credit report and inquire
    with your bank about placing additional security codes
    on your accounts;
4. Keep a log of all losses;
5. Keep your PIN and account information separate and
    do not share them with anyone;
6. Keep all receipts and check them against your bank
    statements every month.
Additional information is available at the New York Department of State’s website. «
Department Streamlines Website Text, Improves Access to Public InformationDepartment Streamlines Website Text
Improves Access to Public Information

DOS unveils more user-friendly, consumer-centric website
In an effort to better serve New Yorkers, the Department of State continues its efforts to overhaul the agency’s website. A new look, streamlined text, user-friendly navigation tools and improved access to public documents are just some of the changes users now see when visiting the site.

The enhanced design and content provide easy-to-understand information about the Department’s wide range of services. Users can more easily search the site and retrieve information on businesses and individuals licensed by the Department, learn about grant programs available to local governments, or get the latest facts about recent scams and product recalls.

The first phase of the redesign included a new homepage and new looks for frequently visited pages such as About the Department and About the Secretary. From the homepage, users can now link directly to the Division of Licensing Services to apply for a license; contact the Division of Consumer Protection with a consumer inquiry, or reach out to division staff to incorporate a business.

A new calendar of events is making it easier for the public to learn of important activities and the Department’s newly structured Twitter account provides the latest news and alerts. Also featured are links to the Governor’s website and a list of all New York State agencies. The Department hopes to complete its redesign by the end of the year.
Leader in Coastal Management
Honored by ASPA

Deputy Secretary George Stafford Presented with the Alfred E. Smith AwardDeputy Secretary George Stafford Presented with Alfred E. Smith Award
Deputy Secretary George Stafford, a nationally recognized leader in coastal, oceans, and Great Lake issues, is the 2011 recipient of the Alfred E. Smith Award. Presented by the Empire State Capital Area Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration, the annual award is given for outstanding individual service, initiative and management.

Mr. Stafford’s public service spans more than 35 years. He has guided New York’s Coastal Management Program since its inception 29 years ago.
DOS Deputy Secretary Receives Distinguished Award from SUNY-Potsdam

Dede Scozzafava is honoredDede Scozzafava
honored for North Country public service

SUNY-Potsdam awarded DOS Deputy Secretary Dede Scozzafava with its highest award for her years of advocacy on behalf of women, children and crime victims. The Roger B. Linden Distinguished Service Award is given to those who have demonstrated steadfast support for SUNY Potsdam and the region. Governor Cuomo tapped Scozzafava in January to serve as Deputy Secretary for Local Government at the Department of State. Prior to her appointment, she served for more than a decade in the State Assembly, as a Village of Gouverneur trustee for four years and as its mayor for five years. «
Licensing Up in
2nd Quarter 2011

View top 5 disciplines »

* Calendar of Events *

2011 Watershed Science and Technical Conference -- September 15-16,
  Thayer Hotel, West Point, NY
New York State Board of Real Estate Appraisal Meeting -- September 23,
  10:30AM, 80 South Swan Street, Albany, NY (123 William Street in NYC)
Oneida County Training Event -- October 1, Mohawk Valley Community College,
  Utica, NY
NYS Home Inspection Council Meeting -- October 12, 10:30AM,
  Alfred E. Smith Building, Albany, NY (123 William Street in NYC)